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Laconia man deeply grateful for the 2 women who saved his life

LACONIA — This summer's pleasures will be all the sweeter for city resident Charles "Chuck" Farquharson, who says his life could very well have ended in December of last year had it not been for the actions of a long chain of people. He is grateful to the emergency responders from Laconia Fire Department, as well as the medical staff at both Lakes Region General Hospital and Concord Hospital. However, he believes he owes his life, first and foremost, to the two employees at the CVS on Union Avenue who first rushed to his aid.

Farquharson, 52, who has lived on Winter Street since 2006, doesn't even remember walking to the pharmacy on Dec. 15 of last year. However, shift supervisor Renee McVey and pharmacist Kristin Silveria remember that day well. It was the day after a 1-foot snowstorm and the day of their staff holiday party, so Renee was wearing reindeer antlers for the occasion. The store was quiet at about 11:30 a.m., she remembers, when Farquharson walked through the door and continued in the direction of the pharmacy. Surveillance video, viewed afterward, showed that he only made it about 15 feet, at which point he grabbed his chest and fell forward, smashing his face on the floor. He had suffered a heart attack.

The cashier watched him fall and called out to McVey, who was in the back office at the time. There was something in the cashier's voice that made her look to the video monitor, where she saw a man laying prone in the entrance. She immediately called 9-1-1 and ran to his side. Also rushing to Farquharson's side was Silveria, who has known how to perform CPR since she was 11 but had never had the opportunity to use the skill outside of training sessions. McVey had also never found herself in such a situation, though looking back, she said she never hesitated in her reaction. "It doesn't feel like something I wouldn't normally do. It's just natural, instinct. Something happened, you need to take care of it."

While one woman spoke with the emergency dispatcher, the other attended to Farquharson. After ascertaining that he was unconscious, they flipped him over and recognized him as one of their regular customers. "He comes in all the time, he's a happy-go-lucky guy and it's nice to see him with that big smile on his face," said McVey. On that day, though, his face was bloodied from his fall and his breathing coarse. As Silveria placed her fingers on his neck, she felt his pulse fade away. Though they feared the worst, they began chest compressions and continued until paramedics arrived.

Farquharson was in the store for about 15 minutes in total that day. Fire Department personnel continued working on him in the ambulance for about five minutes, McVey and Silveria said, before taking him to LRGH. He spent three weeks in a medically-induced coma before waking up at Concord Hospital. Today, Farquharson continues to struggle with health challenges but is grateful to be alive. Had he stayed home that day and had his heart attack in his apartment, or had he collapsed on the sidewalk outside of the store, or if the store employees hadn't done everything they could to save his life, he might not be alive today.

"Life is short, people take a lot for granted," he said.

Farquharson is most appreciative of the opportunity to spend time with his family, which includes an adult son, many nieces and nephews and a three-year-old grand niece. "I spoil her rotten." McVey and Silveria, said Farquharson, "They gave me that extra time."

Silveria responded, "You're alive, that's enough for me."


CAPTION for CVS Farquharson in AA:


Charles Farquharson (at center) had a heart attack in the Laconia CVS in December. He believes the immediate reaction by pharmacist Kristin Silveria (left) and shift supervisor Renee McVey (right) helped to save his life. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 July 2014 12:50

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Book protester asks for delay for his trial

CIRCUIT COURT — The local man accused of disorderly conduct for his actions at a Gilford School Board meeting has asked for a continuance in his trial that is scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m. in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

William Baer, through his attorney Mark Sisti, said in his motion filed yesterday that Gilford Police Prosecutor Eric Bredbury agreed to the continuance that was requested because Sisti is scheduled to appear in a different court in a different jurisdiction on that day.

As of yesterday, 4th Circuit Court Presiding Judge Jim Carroll has not ruled on the motion.

Baer faces three Class B misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct — each of which offers a different theory of the alleged crime.

Baer is accused of verbally interrupting a speaker at a contentious Gilford School Board meeting where he and some other parents objected to the assigned reading of the novel "Nineteen Minutes" by N.H. author Jodi Picoult.

Baer specifically said he was offended by particularly sexually graphic passages in the book but what he really wanted to see was a change in the school policy that required parents to "opt in" if a teacher chooses to assign a specific book in a class. At a subsequent meeting, the School Board adopted the requested policy.

At the meeting, Baer requested School Board Chair Sue Allen read the passage aloud but she refused. A short time later Baer objected to a statement made by the next speaker, Joe Wernig, calling it "absurd". When Allen insisted that Baer had already had his opportunity to speak — each person was limited to two minutes — and now it was someone else's turn, Baer kept talking.

When Gilford Lt. Jim Leach went over to Baer and asked him to leave the room, Baer said, "why don't you have me arrested, that's a real civics lesson." It was unclear if Leach was acting on his own authority or whether Allen has asked him to remove Baer.

After a brief exchange, Leach escorted Baer from the room, handcuffed him, and took him to the Gilford Police Station in the back of a cruiser. Baer was released on personal recognizance bail.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 July 2014 12:39

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Commissioners willing to ask only for HVAC money for jail

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners say that they like the idea of asking for a $1 million bond issue for a new HVAC system for the county jail but say they have no idea what the county convention will do given that its chairwoman wouldn't allow separate votes on the three elements of a proposed $2.96 bond issue when the convention rejected it by a 7-9 vote last month.
The idea of bringing the issue before the convention again was raised by Dave DeVoy of Sanbornton during the public input session when the commission met yesterday.
DeVoy, who is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the commission seat currently held by Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), said in a letter published in Tuesday's Daily Sun that he believes that the ''vast majority or maybe the entire delegation would support this bond.''
Philpot , who is not running for re-election, said that he had no idea if Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), would allow the bond issue for the HVAC system to be brought back because there is no communication between the commissioners and the convention leadership.
Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont) suggested to DeVoy that he bring up the idea with the chairwoman.
Other elements of the defeated bond proposal, which required a two-thirds majority vote for passage, also included $360,000 for a schematic design for a new county jail and $1.6 million for a three-year lease of a 48-bed temporary housing unit.
County Administrator Debra Shackett, who said it was worth making the effort to try and get funds for the HVAC system, noted that members of the Belknap County Jail Planning Committee and House of Corrections Superintendent Daniel Ward said the top priority was the temporary housing, which would allow the jail more space for inmates as well as for programs which help them adjust to life in the community once their jail terms are over.
Commissioners voted at yesterday's meeting to accept a $3,600 grant from the N.H. State Council for the Arts for establishing a poetry workshop at the Belknap County House of Corrections which would involve both male and female inmates and is seen as an important outlet for many of the inmates which would provide them with a way of expressing feelings that perhaps cannot be expressed in any other manner.
It was noted that many inmates currently draw, keep journals and write poetry on a daily basis to help themselves cope with their feelings and frustrations.
The county will provide $1,800 in cash support for the program, $704 for instructor preparation and planning and $1,096 for composition books and papers, as well as $6,340 of in-kind contributions for managing and supervising the program and providing utilities, including the Internet, and classroom and closet space.
The program is slated to start in November with instructors Timothy Muskat and Linda Kunhardt, locally published poets, teaching four six-week sessions in which there will be scheduled poetry readings for inmates as well as regular classes and writing time.
Commissioner Stephen Nedeau (R-Meredith), citing the county's tight budget constraints, opposed the program at this time but both Thomas and Philpot said they thought it was a good program and offered another way to help inmates adjust and achieve positive growth.
Commissioners also signed an agreement with the State Attorney General's Office which provides a $25,000 grant for the county to fund an ongoing victim services coordinator position and requires a $35,787 local match.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 July 2014 12:34

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Volunteers clean-up Winnipesaukee River bank

LACONIA — In the past, the small clearing on city-owned property that runs along the Winnipesaukee River off Davis Place has been called a lot of things.

In the 1960s and 1970s it was Shoe Shop Beach — a place where shift workers from the Laconia Shoe Company would come to after their shift and drink. Their pastimes included throwing their beer bottles against a cement abutment.

From the 1980s until recently, some have referred to it as Hobo Beach and Ghetto Beach — a barb directed at users.

Today, and thanks to a crew of residents from the Normandin Square Apartments at 22 Stafford Street led by Shelly Saunders, Jim Michaud, and Bill Sterner — its called the Clean and Sober Beach.

Saunders said she met Sterner this spring while the two of them were walking their dogs. Both complained about how filthy the area was and that's when they came up with the idea of cleaning it.

Saunders used a rake to recover the glass close to the shoreline, Sterner raked the cigarette butts and debris from the area and together with a few of their friends they cleaned the garbage from the area.

"There's 50 years of drinking and breaking bottles down here and we've cleaned up most of it," she said.

In the interim, a small flower garden has been planted with donated flowers, Ann Saltmarsh of the Department of Public Works has given them some recycling containers, and Michaud built a little table that some of the residents use at night for fishing and cutting bait.

"You wouldn't believe the horn pout they catch down here," said Steiner.

The crew even cleaned the path so some of the wheelchair bound residents can go down and get some fresh air.

Saunders and Sterner were there yesterday morning drinking coffee and giving their dogs a little exercise. Saunders and Sterner sat in two of the several donated lawn chairs that stay there neatly stacked in the corner until someone wants to use one.

A kayaker named Nate paddled by and stopped briefly to visit and to get his little dog a treat from Saunders. "I'm so glad they cleaned this area up," Nate said. "It's beautiful."

To date, Saunders said only one chair has been stolen from the area. She noted yesterday that even the people who go down there late at night to drink have started to use the recycling bins.

"I just wish they'd use the ashtrays we put down here," she said, as Steiner walked around and picked up a few stray cigarette butts.

She said that during the day they occasionally have some problems with people going down there to drink and expecting the others to keep and eye on their children.

"We don't come down her to to be babysitters," she said.

She said there have been complaints of trespassing by one of the neighbors but as long as everyone stays off his property, there's not much he can do. As for the local police, she said they occasionally stop down to make sure no one is drinking but as long as there's no alcohol or drugs, she said they are "cool."

"We don't want alcohol or drugs down here," Saunders said. "We just want a nice area that local people can come and enjoy a little bit of nature."

CUTLINE: (beach) Shelly Saunders and Bill Steiner and their dogs "Tobey Omara" and "Sandy" enjoy a little early morning quiet along the Winnipesaukee River in a spot they recently rehabilitated. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

(beach) Shelly Saunders, gives a treat to a kayaker's dog while two other dogs in the foreground look on. Saunders and Bill Sterner spearheaded a group of residents at 22 Strafford Street that cleaned up the small area next to the Winnipesaukee River. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 July 2014 01:17

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